So, getting naked with a bunch of strangers isn’t your thing, eh?
Maybe after watching this, it will be! Not only are Japanese baths and hot springs therapeutic, they’re heavenly on the body and a part of Japan that shouldn’t be missed. I don’t think I can ever go back to western bathing again! In this episode, John explores some of the reasons behind the concept of public bathing in Japan.

There are sento and onsen. Sento are public baths that can be found in many neighborhoods.

Onsen are naturally occuring hot springs with geothermaically heated water full of minerals. It’s also where you’ll find some of Japan most traditional resorts. Shyness and nudity: Japanese are known for being shy, but at the bath, most are comfortable in their nudity. Why? John asks a Japanese neighbor who is 94 years old.

Mr. Seiichi has an answer to almost everything! There’s a phrase in Japanese that explains some of it: Hadaka no tsukiai (裸の付き合い) It basically means we’re all the same when we’re naked. It’s a part of any open relationship with friends or in business, going to the bath is a place where you literally can’t hide anything! John starts this episode at a local sento in Tokyo’s Edogawa ward. It’s called Take no Yu 竹の湯 and is located in Shinozaki 篠崎, 20 minutes from central Tokyo. It’s been operating since the 1950’s but patrons have been decreasing annually since the 1990s because most younger people stay home and take a dip in their private baths. The culture is changing in Japan. Youth are just too busy to visit the sento and many old local sentos are going out of business because of it. Tokyo is loaded with many fantastic and historical public baths! Definitely check one out when you visit. It’s one place where you can experince all-out Japan!

We also take a trip to one of Japan’s famous onsen resort towns, Minakami in neighboring Gunma prefecture. Takaragawa Onsen 宝川温泉 is a foreign friendly place where you can soak in baths outside in the snow and get a very traditional meal.

Prices: Sento Entry (Tokyo): 480 yen Towel: 120 Yen (soap and shampoo sometimes provided for free)
Onsen Stay: Takaragawa Onsen (1 night / 2 meals): 14,800 yen / rates depend on time of year and room. Travel is separate.

New Japanese Bath & Onsen Episode here: Inside Tokyo’s Bath Houses: Behind the Scenes…